OverviewOne of the largest granite monoliths in North America. This mountain stands over 800 feet above its base. It is a true monadnock, rising starkly above the Atlanta area plateau on which it rests. This peak is a lot of fun to climb and it's easy to do with one official trail leading to the summit. The trail is yellow-blazed and simple to follow. There are some steep sections, some spots quite treacherous in the rare icy conditions that occasionally hit the area. Once on top, one should not, under any circumstances, try to duck below the safety fence on the peak. The granite is covered in lichens which tend to crumble underfoot and form what quickly becomes a slippery surface that can lead one to begin sliding down the face to the cliffs.
Stone Mountain once presented a dramatic and pristine granite face rising 825 feet above the surrounding terrain. In the early 1900s one section of the mountain was blasted open to allow the carving of a hideous relief sculpture featuring personalities from the Confederate government. This scar exists on the mountain and is quite ugly. The park is run by an entertainment corporation and is home to the basest and most vulgar of development. Roads, hotels, restaurants, parking lots, railroads, laser light shows, and various other destructive "activities" pollute the area. There is a large building housing a skylift station and restaurant/gift shop on the summit.
However, there is still beauty to this mountain and a sense of peace and wildness can be found by hiking to the summit and walking off the beaten trail to areas of open rock and forests all around and on the peak.
Accessible by road. Stone Mountain is surrounded by the urban sprawl of the Atlanta area and can be driven to from Highway 78, which connects to the vast interstate sytem of the Atlanta road system.
Take exit 39-B off of I-285 and go east on highway 78 to exit 8, which is the Stone Mountain Park Main Entrance.
The park is located just 16 miles from downtown Atlanta.
There is an admission price of $8.00 per vehicle to gain access to the park. Once in the park, there is no further charge to climb the mountain on foot. There is a sky lift which can be used for a fee.
Camping is allowed in the park at designated campgrounds, with fees ranging from $23 to $38 per night.
When To ClimbAny season. This area of Georgia is quite temperate. The only time I've ever had trouble climbing Stone Mountain is during winter when ice coated the steep sections of the trail. It is possible that one might need crampons to safely negotiate these sections, but ice has become a rare occurence here.
CampingCamping only in designated and developed campgrounds in the park. There is no true backcountry in this park.
Mountain ConditionsCheck the weather for either Atlanta or Decatur or Stone Mountain.
Route to summit.
The Walk Up Trail is a total of 1.23 miles. It begins at The Confederate Hall parking lot near the west gate of the main park road. Walk about .34 miles to "The Confederate Flags" area (yes, there are Confederate flags waving there). From that point, it's another .89 miles to the summit, some sections climbing quite steeply over bare granite. Lots of places to stop and look out over the Atlanta area and the Piedmont. On clear days one can make out the Blue Ridge far to the north. Total elevation gain on this trail is roughly 700 feet.
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